You’re probably flossing wrong!

Today’s tip is a quick one.

If you haven’t started flossing (at least 1-2 times per week), you’re in the wrong post. Start flossing tonight and have more comfortable dental visits!

For those of you that are flossing at least somewhat regularly (we’re not perfect either), chances are you’re doing it incorrectly.

We have noticed in our practices that many of our regular-flossing patients are actually doing half the job and not effectively helping fight against gum disease and in-between teeth cavities.  When we ask them to demonstrate their flossing technique, what we notice is they typically snap the floss in and out, pushing through each contact point of adjacent teeth (where the teeth touch each other back to back).

This is insufficient as most of the bacteria and plaque is actually sitting under the gums sticking to the teeth/roots.  This means that when you snap, or better yet slide in your floss between the teeth, you should make a “C” shape with it and wrap it around one of the teeth and slide the floss up and down under the gum along the roots, then do the same thing with the other tooth.  Check out the picture below and see how deep the floss is actually supposed to go.

Proper Flossing Technique
Wrapping around front and back of tooth in a “C” shape.

This is usually the point where you would notice a little bleeding and possibly some discomfort on the gums.  Many people get scared and think they’re doing it too hard and are harming the gums/teeth.  That’s actually false. Don’t worry about this.  It is normal in the beginning when starting to floss the correct way, and with continued proper flossing you will notice the gums bleeding less and less when this is done, and eventually stop bleeding altogether.  When you reach this point, I congratulate you. You now have healthy gums!

Pro tip: If flossing to take out a stubborn piece of food caught between your teeth (typically things like meat or chicken), make a knot in the middle of your floss thread and slide it back and forth through your teeth. The knot will usually push everything through.